Premio lo Nuestro salutes Marc Anthony, expresses hope for Venezuela

The stars of the Latin music industry aligned Thursday at the Univision Network’s 26th annual edition of Premio lo Nuestro, the Spanish-language network’s awards show to honor the hottest talent in Latin music. The show shined a spolight on salsa – opening with salsero Victor Manuelle, showcasing Marc Anthony and closing with an army of veteran salsa stars.

The night’s top honor went to salsa star Marc Anthony, who was given the “Premio lo Nuestro a la Excelencia,” the Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as four other prizes: Tropical Album of the Year for 3.0, Tropical Song of the Year for Vivir Mi Vida, Collaboration of the Year for Por Qué les Mientes with Tito el Bambino and Tropical Salsa Artist of the Year.

Presenters and performers took the opportunity to make overtures of sympathy and solidarity with the people of Venezuela, currently embroiled in violent confrontations after days of protests against economic conditions and the current administration. Venezuelan duo Chino y Nacho climbed the stage carrying a Venezuelan flag to retrieve their award for Best Tropical Duo, noting how difficult it is to smile when they know how badly their compatriots are suffering.

The baby-faced bachata balladeer Prince Royce trailed Marc Anthony with three awards: Artist of the Year, Tropical Male Artist of the Year and Tropical Contemporary Artist of the Year. The Bronx-born crooner debuted his latest single, Te Robaré, at the show, one of 19 live musical performances on the Art Deco-inspired set inside the AmericanAirlines Arena. Royce wasn’t the only bachata singer to claim victory; fellow bachatero Romeo Santos snagged the prize for Video of the Year for Propuesta Indecente.

Nostalgia reigned when the awards for Regional Mexican Female Artist of the Year, Pop Song of the Year and Pop Female Artist of the Year were bestowed upon Jenni Rivera; the pop/banda songstress’ career was on the rise when she died suddenly in a tragic plane crash in late 2012.

In the pop category, Mexican songbird Thalia snagged Pop Album of the Year for Habítame Siempre. Marco Antonio Solis left with the award for Pop Male Artist of the Year, but not before taking the stage to sing his latest romantic ballad, De Mil Amores and performing a collaboration with Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. Mr. 305 also left with his hands full, scoring two awards: Urban Song of the Year for Echa Pa’llá (Manos Pa’Arriba) and Urban Artist of the Year.

The top winner in the Regional Mexican category went to Gerardo Ortiz for Regional Mexican Male Artist of the Year, Norteño Artist of the Year and Regional Mexican Song of the Year for Sólo Vine a Despedirme.

Pop heart throb Luis Fonsi premiered his new single Corazón en la Maleta, and Yandel, one-half of the reggaeton duo Wisin y Yandel, joined forces with the Boriqua powerhouse Daddy Yankee to perform their dancefloor-friendly hit Moviendo Caderas.

Closing the show was a dazzling performance by a who’s who of the salsa world, with eight of the genre’s most iconic artists — Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Miranda, José Alberto “El Canario,” Nora, Oscar de León, Sergio George, Tito Nieves and Willy Chirino — joining forces as Los Grandes de la Salsa (The Salsa Giants) along with the Colombian singer Charlie Zaa.

But the night belonged to Anthony, who received his “Premio a la Excelencia” from Pitbull after bringing the audience to their feet with his mega hits Tu Amor Me Hace Bien, Cambio de Piel and Vivir Mi Vida. Anthony now has a grand total of 22 statues.